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The key to success…PRACTICE!

Whether it’s losing weight, running a marathon or a 10K, or keeping fit, some of us won’t complete our resolutions. Statistics show that many fail within the first month. So what happens to us that we get so frustrated and just want to give up?

Why does our motivation run out of steam? What gets us to the point of thinking everything is futile? First comes shame, then guilt, which results in auto-pilot eating or grazing, which paralyzes our drive, which leads to inaction.

Misery loves company — and sometimes a doughnut. Before you know it, more time has crept by and another broken promise and poor choice has stolen your hope of accomplishing the resolution you were longing to achieve. People tend to give into failure. The problem is often that the expectations were too high. The approach was not sustainable. We can’t get where we want to go from where we are; we have to go somewhere else first.

Also, resolutions tend to be fly-by-night. More intentional planning turns the fantasy (better health and mobility, more stamina, increased enjoyment of life)into reality. Plans to reach a goal are laid out in phases, or one small goal at a time. It’s intentional daily action that gets you to your destination.

No one loses 20 pounds overnight or runs a marathon after one day of training. You have to give yourself a chance to succeed. You have to give yourself a reason to make those intentional action steps over and over and over. You must dig deep and know why you must reach your goal.

The key to success is to practice daily disciplines. Practice what works for you and don’t compare the outcome to others. Measure the process, not the outcome.

The cure to any unhealthy habit shows up in the process!

Instead of saying you want to lose 20 pounds, what if you just decided to “exercise every day, no matter what”? Even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. You might not shed a ton of weight at once, but if you kept up the habit, you’d start seeing the results you desired – eventually.

Or instead of weighing every day and letting your self-esteem rise and fall with the numbers, just put it aside for now and pay attention to how your jeans fit will better and your muffin top will soon disappear – eventually.

Focus on how your body feels and what your measurements are, rather than on the number you see on the scale.

To help your frame of mind and change your focus, go through your closet and purge those clothes that continually tease you saying, “You will never wear me again.” Honestly, when you get down to that size again should you be wearing that miniskirt? You keep it because it seems like an incentive, but perhaps you should tell yourself that when you return to that size you’ve earned some new clothes. It’s nice to have incentive, but make it realistic–and age-appropriate.

There are two operative words here: Practice and eventually.

The typical goal-setting mindset tends to focus on the outcome with little to no regard for the process of getting there. It’s like saying that you want to run the Boston Marathon but you forget the months of the agonizing training and trials that you have to complete. Long-term commitment will bring the results you want to see. I promise!

The 20-Mile March

In his book “Great by Choice,” author Jim Collins tells the stories of two explorers wanting to be the first to visit the South Pole. One plans on everything going more or less according to his expectations, and when things don’t, it sets him back. The other, however, decides to march 20 miles every day, no matter what.

The first explorer blames everything but himself (including the weather) for his failure. He and his team do, in fact, reach the South Pole, but sadly they all die on the return voyage home. The second explorer not only succeeds in reaching Antarctica first, but he lives to tell the tale.

There’s a lot to be learned from this regarding our approach to achieving our goals. Don’t set over-ambitious goals or choose unrealistic targets. Instead, map out what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get there. Add consistency to your schedule and practice what works. Again…what matters is the process, the practice and the hope of getting to your goal — eventually.

Practice, patience, practice:

A few additional “must haves” for success…

  • Right attitude: “I am doing something positive for myself today.”
  • Right process (for you): “Here’s what I will do every day.”
  • Scheduled time: Eventually you will achieve your goals if you stick with it! Make YOU an important appointment on your calendar daily. NO EXCUSES!

When you don’t see the results you want, you need to change your attitude or the process, or give yourself another chance to practice what works. There are a lot of things in this world you can’t control, but you can control your positive choices. And change comes in the process as you remain patient and consistent in your practices.

Oh…and don’t forget to celebrate small victories along the way, even if it’s only one pound or one-fourth of a mile. Each step forward is progress! Celebrate the journey.

 Wendie Pett

— by Wendie Pett

Pett is a nationally renowned fitness expert and coach, mother, TV host, speaker, author and creator of the Visibly Fit™ exercise program. Wendie’s Visibly Fit™ instructional DVDs teach wellness maximization through the balance of mind, body, and spirit while using one’s body as a gym (and saving hundreds in membership fees). To learn more, visit www.wendiepett.com